Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
the Church in accomplishing its purpose, and I do not suppose you ever will.  But on behalf, not so much of the clergy as of the laity—­on behalf of the worshippers in our churches, of the sick to be visited at home—­of the poor in their cottages, of our children in their schools—­of our society in general, I entreat those of the clergy who are now feeling the most acutely in this matter, not to suffer their minds to be so absorbed by the present grievance as to take no thought of the evils of disestablishment.  I am not foolishly blind to the faults of the clergy—­indeed I fear I am sometimes censorious in regard to them—­and some of their faults I do think may be referable to Establishment; the possession of house and land, and a sort of independence of their parishioners, in some cases seems to tend to secularity.  I regret sometimes their partisanship at elections, their speeches at public dinners.  But what good gift of God is not liable to abuse from men?  Taken as a whole, we have owed, and we do owe, under Him, to our Established clergy more than we can ever repay, much of it rendered possible by their Establishment.  I may refer, and now with special force, to Education—­their services in this respect no one denies—­and but for Establishment these, I think, could not have been so effectively and systematically rendered.  We are now in a great crisis as to this all-important matter.  Concurring, as I do heartily, in the praise which has been bestowed on Mr. Forster, and expecting that his great and arduous office will be discharged with perfect impartiality by him, and with a just sense of how much is due to the clergy in this respect, still it cannot be denied that the powers conferred by the Legislature on the holder of it are alarmingly great, even if necessary; and who shall say in what a spirit they may be exercised by his successor?  For the general upholding of religious education, in emergencies not improbable, to whom can we look in general so confidently as to the parochial clergy?  I speak now specially in regard to parishes such as I am most familiar with, in agricultural districts, small, not largely endowed, sometimes without resident gentry, and with the land occupied by rack-renting farmers, indifferent or hostile to education.

In what Sir John Coleridge urges against the fatal step of welcoming disestablishment under an impatient sense of injustice we need not say that we concur most earnestly.  But it cannot be too seriously considered by those who see the mischief of disestablishment, that as Sir John Coleridge also says, the English Churrh is, in one sense, a divided one; and that to pursue a policy of humiliating and crippling one of its great parties must at last bring mischief.  The position of the High Church party is a remarkable one.  It has had more against it than its rivals; yet it is probably the strongest of them all.  It is said, probably with reason, to be the unpopular party.  It has been the stock object of abuse

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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